About two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of heading to Montmartre to interview Ben Quilty, an Australian artist whose Freudian (Lucian not Sigmund — although he’s an important factor) style of portraiture first captured me. I was delighted to find out that he was in Paris for the summer, staying in the famed artists’ residency, Cité des Arts. In person, Ben was an enigmatic as his work; humble in his quest for practice and poetically eloquent on the subject of portraiture, identity and life in general.
As before, I can’t promote all the interview, but it’s yours for the reading, just here.


Your Rorschach series forms a large part of the exhibition at Saatchi Gallery — what was your aim with these?
It seemed like a natural progression from where I was at with my painting, which had become very gestural and fast. For a visual language to be interesting it needs to develop; becoming more nuanced, more in-depth and more intelligent. The Rorschach series started off as an experiment, but as as soon as I did it, I knew there was a lot of potential in them as a visual language. The act of making literal childhood Rorschach paintings — what we call a ‘squashie’ in Australia —, is innately child-like, yet there’s also something very destructive about ruining something you’ve spent a lot of time working on. Especially when they’re really big, you do expend a lot of energy and materials. You essentially destroy it, but ultimately, to make something more beautiful…


self portrait smashed ben quilty

fairy bower


The Island


All images courtesy of Ben Quilty, studio shots taken by Mim Stirling.